The Girl On The Train and The “Woman As A Villain” Problem

Just the other day I was thinking about the lack of fearful lady antagonists in films and television. Off the top of my head I could think of two females that scared the shit out of me. Annie Wilkes in the Stephen King adapted film Misery and Amy Dunne in the Gillian Flynn adapted film Gone Girl.

By mere coincidence, the strangeness of the absence of the psycho female role came up again as I sat down to watch another book adapted into a movie. This time it was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

This film engaged my attention all the way through. But the ending got me back to my original question. Why does Hollywood fear villainizing female characters?

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Let’s Talk About X-Men: Part 2

Alright peeps. Seeing as Logan is Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as Wolverine, it seemed like a good time to take a look back on the X-Men film series and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. These aren’t reviews, per say. We’re not going to rank these things or analyze the crap out of them. Instead, we’re just going to crack jokes and revel in the fact that Jackman has been playing this character for almost 20 years. That’s pretty damn amazing, whether you like the X-Men or not.

We already traveled back to the early 2000’s and discussed the groundbreaking start to the X-Men movie franchise covering X-Men, X-2, and The Last Stand right here. So make sure to check that out to find out which movie knocked Jesse’s pants off (he still hasn’t found them) and which movie we wish never existed at all (hint, it’s The Last Stand).

Next we are going to whip out our adamantium claws and slash our way into the Wonderful World of Wolverine.

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Let’s Talk About X-Men: Part 1

Alright peeps. Seeing as Logan is Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as Wolverine, it seemed like a good time to take a look back on the X-Men film series and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. These aren’t reviews, per say. We’re not going to rank these things or analyze the crap out of them. Instead, we’re just going to crack jokes and revel in the fact that Jackman has been playing this character for almost 20 years. That’s pretty damn amazing, whether you like the X-Men or not.

To kick things off, we’ll discuss all things concerning the original X-Men film trilogy, particularly whether or not Cyclops is as lame now as we thought he was back then (he is) and if these movies have stood the test of time. The first two? Yes. The third one? Well, we’ll get to that.

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Dr. Strange is Just Marvel Being Marvel

You ever know someone who seems to have everything work out for them? My buddy Nick is like that when it comes to fantasy football. He’s won our league the last two years and could very well come out on top again this season, but the surprise is no longer the fact that he’s successful. The rest of us are used to that, whether we like it or not. What really perplexes us is how he achieves that success. He’s drafted a team that has won a championship. He’s had one autodrafted for him that won a championship. Certain players will perform below expectations on our teams and then experience a career renaissance on his. If any of us try to emulate what he does in the hope of reaping similar rewards, it blows up in our face.

What I’m getting at is that Nick is the Marvel Studios of our fantasy league: he is untouchable and seemingly unstoppable.

Look no further than Dr. Strange, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that absolutely would not work anywhere else, and yet there it is making more money and garnering more acclaim for a studio that could go to the bathroom and poop out a successful film. Again, the surprising thing isn’t that a good Dr. Strange movie exists. It’s that it exists and none of us are shocked to see it happen.

(In case you were wondering, my fantasy team is more like the DC Cinematic Universe: it looks good on paper but no one else is ever impressed by it and it winds up tanking every year)

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The Sins of Suicide Squad

Kevin and I often discuss how spoiled we have become by comic book movies. When we were kids, Marvel films were basically non-existent and Batman was suffering through the dark days of Joel Schumacher. We could hardly even fathom a world where the Avengers teamed up on-screen, let alone returned for numerous sequels and solo outings. With Spider-Man back in the fold at Marvel and DC rapidly creating its own film universe, we are as pampered as ever and it shows.

Suicide Squad is not a terrible movie, even if that’s what most critics would have you believe. Nor is it a great one. This mashup of villains is a perfectly accessible experience and if it’s guilty of anything, it just doesn’t reach the bar that Marvel has set so high.

And I think that’s the biggest obstacle that DC has yet to overcome. Their films thus far have been enjoyable enough but are also flawed and divisive, which would have been fine 10 years ago. Now that the market has become so saturated by comic book adaptations and crossovers galore, anything that doesn’t live up to the Marvel standard gets torn to shreds. In my opinion, that’s what is happening here.

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Falling in Love with Her

Admitting to your friends that the film Her, directed and written by Spike Jonze, is one of your favorite movies instantly puts you into the shoes of the film’s protagonist Theodore Twombly.

“Wait isn’t that the movie where that dude falls in love with a computer?”

“Well actually his OS…”

“His what?”

“OS…Operating System. Like what runs your computer”

“Oh…and you liked the movie?”

Yes, despite the judgment, I did. In fact, much like Theodore fell in love with Samantha, his artificially intelligent operating system, I fell in love with the film about love, loss and acceptance.

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We’ve All Had 500 Days of Summer

Hey Tom, look, I know you think that she was the one, but I don’t. I think you’re just remembering the good stuff. Next time you look back, I really think you should look again. 

Not many movies have the balls to tell you up front how they’re going to end. Tom and Summer share a romance that winds up going south. We learn that before the opening credits even roll, but how are you supposed to invest in the journey when you know the destination? By conventional Hollywood rules, we shouldn’t find out if the boy gets the girl until the end of a love story. You know, fairy tales and happily ever after and all that jazz. Only 500 Days of Summer isn’t about whether it will work out between the main characters.

Our challenge as the audience is to be comfortable having all that information ahead of time. The reward is a much richer experience than you would have with your typical, sappy romantic comedy, and one that is equal parts poignant and humorous. When you get right down to it, that’s what a relationship brings to your life: a genuine connection with another person that provides joy, laughter, and eventually in most cases, sorrow.

And let’s just say it’s a little easier to be up to the challenge when you see Tom’s plight and can clearly picture yourself.

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